After seeing pictures on TV—real, fake and hard-to-tell-and-does-it-really-matter (how can I know if the picture I include below is “real”? There are currently very few images of the damage from Trump’s missile strikes available online outside of those produced and shared by Russian journalism. Meanwhile the American military and press are releasing embedded images of the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air. How are our images being produced, controlled, circulated? What are the larger forces that influence virality and visibility? We need time to understand these and all images. We need to think through what to do with what we see. We need time and context and care) …

After he and we saw a picture on TV, Trump, the traditional and social media all moved fast. Too fast. Internet quick. With algorithmic speed. This is the dangerous cycle and logic of virality—one that moves with barely human (what I have called proto-being) momentum from images and tweets to missiles, directives, policing, travel bans all with long-term lived consequences for human beings and nations.

In #100hardtruths #80 I suggested we need strategies to “outlast virality.” “Outlast virility,” I suggest, in relation to a cycle of news, #fakenews, and related actions that have accelerated to a dangerous pitch where rational, legal and ethical care and consideration can no longer be exacted before we act. “Outlast virility” in connection to said speed and the virile weaponized powers of patriarchal aggression it authorizes.

The aftermath of a US air strike on a Syrian military base Instagram/Evegeny Poddubny

In 5 #hardtruths and 2 new pledges @#50 I worried that:

the delightful ambiguities of the fake/real binary are being played by this administration, and the sectors of the media and internet that are built upon and refract them, in ways that are at once confusing, entertaining, distracting and also deadly real for actual people and communities. Understanding and not simply producing contradiction; naming and not evading complexity; breaking through the digital hall of mirrors allow us to breaking through the digital hall of mirrors allow us to focus our attention and action upon the real-world applications of #fakenews, a critical project of this time.

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I recently received an unexpected but timely invitation (from editor Catherine Halley) to write an article for JSTOR Daily.  Her email request arrived when indeed I had something pressing I wanted to say. I was not sure I could say it, or that the time was right, or what the ramifications of my writing it would be, but I did very much want to think critically (and in public) about why I wasn’t watching the viral live feed videos of black death that began circulating and multiplying last week.

With Halley’s close help, and that of many friends and colleagues, that article was published today: How Do I (Not) Look: Live Feed Video and Viral Black Death. My writing, and thinking, occurred in conversation, actual and in my head, with a great many friends and scholars who I’d like to point to here, in no particular order and most likely forgetting some, less for reasons of intellectual property and more to name that my/our understanding of momentous social, technological, personal mayhem and change occurs in communities of care and practice and thought: Natalie Bookchin, Gabrielle Foreman, Robert Reid-Pharr, Cheryl Dunye, Kemi Ilenanmi, Alisa Lebow, Jenny Terry, Roopali Mukherjee, Marta Zarzycka, Jen Malkowski, Lisa Cartwright, Marita Sturken, Nick Mirzoeff, Patty Zimmermann, Sam Gregory,  Deirdre Boyle, Safiya Noble, LaCharles Ward, Ellen Scott, bell hooks, Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt,  Inderpal Grewal,  Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, Susan Sontag, Henry Jenkins, Sherri Williams, Jodi Dean, Michael Gillespie, Stephen Winter, Theodore Kerr and Diamond Reynolds.

I write in honor of Reynold’s work and in the name of our shared witnessing of the death of Philando Castile and so many others.

I am sure my friends and colleagues above will not agree with all of my thoughts on this volatile and horrible matter, nor would I want them to, but I do hope they will understand how critical their voices (and long term work on issues of violence, visibility, video and racial injustice) have been for me during this time.